Working to rebuild damaged home

Living in a rundown house with no water supply and unstable source of income are hurdles a father of four has to endure every day. 

However, in the midst of all these suffering and distress, Ropeti Apulufonofili is still optimistic about the future.

The unemployed farmer from Faleasiu, while speaking to the Village Voice team, shed light on his daily predicament. According to him, natural disasters have further damaged his home, but he is working to rebuild it for his family’s sake.

The Village Voice team found him working on his cocoa plantation in the rain. 

As a father, he feels for his eldest daughter, Suni, who looks after her siblings while he works the land.

“We have been here for a very long time. Tropical Cyclone Evan was the worst time for our family. Our house was completely shattered. Everything that you see now is what we are trying to make out of what we have. All the iron roofing that has been used to make this house that looks like our kitchen which nobody lives in was all the materials from the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Evan,” he said.

“Our kitchen and where we would eat and make food is at the back. This house was what I built with what we had and with any extra money that we had; we just tried to adjust to the situation.”

The 43-year-old is currently in a dilemma – whether to work for a stable income or tend to his farm to feed his family.                                                                                 

“Whatever usable materials we found, we used them. We use iron roofing while the sides we use the coconut leaves. The tarpaulin that secures the house from the rain has also been damaged. We have a major problem with the house. One of the issues that we face is our floor, which is wooden. It is weak just like everything else that is in the house. We have only one mattress and two mosquito nets. The reason we are still here is because this is our land and what my parents own. This is where we grew up, which is the reason we are still here.”

Apulufonofili said they have been living in their current residence for more than 10 years and there is no water supply, but there is electricity.

“My wife and I are both unemployed and the only way we are able to help our children is to work the land. Every time we sell our crops, we would only earn $20 in a week. With that money, we would ensure that our children are fed. The cost of living has become unbearable, everything is expensive and the income that people get paid with is not enough,” he added and said he is thankful to the Red Cross Society for assisting them with a water tank and a toilet.

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